11 June, 2013

What's a PDF file?

We use PDF files in this project two ways.

First, we may provide a link to a PDF file posted on a web site because we think the content is helpful, and ideally, it's free. Second, we may use a PDF file to send a recipe via email to a member or contributor.

You'll need free Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC software to display and download PDF files. New in 2015, Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC works with Adobe® Document Cloud.

Many of us are accustomed to using PDF files in business. This post is an introduction for our contributors and readers who are unfamiliar with PDF files where we cover only basic information applicable to most Windows and Mac users and then provide official Technical Support links. If you wish to go directly to FAQ | Adobe Acrobat Reader DC official web site, click here. More Technical Support links are at the bottom of this page.



What are PDF files?

Have you ever received a file attached to an email and been unable to open it because the document was prepared using software you did not have on your computer?




The Portable Document Format ("PDF") is the "gold standard" solution for that problem. After saving to PDF, the content creator chooses how to share the file, whether as an email attachment, posted to a web site (our Recipe Files example), or via file-sharing Apps like Box, Dropbox, iBooks.

In more technical terms, the Portable Document Format ("PDF") is a computer file format, developed by Adobe® Systems, Inc., that allows authors to exchange content among different computer systems, while preserving the original format. For written documents, this means the words, typography, and page layouts stay the same. Adobe® Acrobat Reader® works as a standalone application, or as a plug-in with some browsers.

You have probably seen PDF logos on other web sites. Click here to see PDF logos via the official Adobe® web site. You need to know:

  • PDF format is universally accepted worldwide. 
  • Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC is free.
  • Always go to the official web to download the free Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC (more below) because it is unavailable in any other manner. Don't be duped by other offers you may see, including via E-mail.





How do I get started?

You'll need to install the current version of Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC on your computer to view, print, or download PDF files. Here are the System Requirements published by Adobe®.


  • Be aware that the free Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC is not available in any other manner via download, including via E-mail.

  • Before beginning Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC installation, use the box near the center of the download page to choose whether you wish to install the accompanying free McAfee Security Scan Plus utility. It's an option and, if you wish, you can get that free utility later from McAfee official web site http://home.mcafee.com/downloads/free-virus-scan

  • During installation, you may opt to have your computer regularly search for and install Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC updates automatically, or to search and notify only. Read more about updates below.


If your other software applications are up-to-date, once you install the current version of Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC and restart your computer, you're ready to start using PDF. 

Here are two very brief examples using PDF with text documents. For Microsoft Word ("Word") documents you create, select "Save As" rather than just "Save." When you select "Save As" another menu appears and you will choose "PDF" or "PDF (*.pdf)."  

Similarly, but in the upper right corner of Apple devices, select Share and then tap "Open in Another App" followed by "PDF" and then the App you wish to use for sharing.

If you use an iPhone, and want to read an overview before going to the official Apple Technical Support links below, here's a good one:








What happens to my other files?

Continue saving your source files as is customary so you can edit them. Beginning with Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC releases in 2015, the company states (see company FAQ) PDF now supports all types of PDF content, including forms and multimedia.

Remember one of the purposes of the PDF format is to keep the format of your files from being modified. This means that you cannot easily convert or save a PDF file into another file format if you don’t have the source file. 

Save your source files so you can edit them. 




How do I update Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC?
Adobe® releases updates a few times a year (find Release Notes here). During installation an individual may choose to

  • Have a computer regularly update itself when updates are detected; or  
  • Manually update the product on her/his computer. For updating Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC on Windows and Mac only, choose Help > Check for Updates.

If you are running Adobe® Acrobat Reader® DC under an enterprise license, IT or Systems administrators will probably handle updates for you.






Official Technical Support Links

For further questions and guidance, please contact the official company Technical Support teams for the product(s) you are using. Here's a list of the topics we found:


2007 Microsoft Office




Microsoft Word 2013




Microsoft Office for Mac programs via Microsoft




Apple devices via Official Apple Support 




Adobe® official web site



Page Last Updated 13 June 2015

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